Danske Bank is today revealed as Northern Ireland's number one company, with pre-tax profits of £90m in the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies in association with Arthur Cox.
he bank's 2019 £90m figure was up from £88.8m the year before - with the result propelling it from number three in 2019's chart to number one for 2020.
Our Top 100 is compiled by economist John Simpson, with Northern Ireland-registered firms in local, national or international ownership, ranked in order of pre-tax profits.
This year, the qualifying level of pre-tax profits was £4.9m compared to £2.3m in 2015 - reflecting a pattern of growing profitability among Northern Ireland businesses.
Mr Simpson said the average business in the Top 100 had increased their profits by 12% during the year, presenting a positive picture for the economy as it faces the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Kevin Kingston, the chief executive of Danske Bank, warned of a tough year ahead for the economy. "We are extremely proud of the achievements of the bank in recent years, however the coronavirus disruption has had a serious impact on the economy and many of our customers," he said.
"As Northern Ireland's biggest bank, our business performance reflects the economy we serve.
"The Northern Ireland economy will begin to grow again and I believe we are well positioned to continue to support our customers and wider society as we move forward, together.
"It will not be an easy path, but I remain confident that our business leaders in Northern Ireland will rise to the challenges that lie ahead and that we will get through these troubled times."
The bank has 40 branches and around 1,400 employees around Northern Ireland.
Danske Bank said mortgages had been the key driver of its lending in 2019, with mortgage lending hitting its highest ever level.
Lynsey Mallon, head of corporate and commercial at Arthur Cox, said: "Each year, the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 provides an insight into the stellar performance of Northern Ireland's top companies, showcasing the variety of firms operating locally, from small family businesses, to large private enterprises and multinational corporations.
"The guide proves more than anything that Northern Ireland's economy remains exceptionally resilient and provides us with a welcome opportunity to honour those businesses that have worked to become our most profitable firms.
"Congratulations go to all organisations included in this year's Top 100 guide."
Today’s publication also includes a foreword from the Economy Minister Diane Dodds.
The minister writes: “I am very conscious that the figures reported on today relate to a period before Covid-19.
“As a result, this gives us a snapshot of some of our most successful businesses just before the pandemic descended. This was a time before lockdown, social distancing or the need to wear face coverings.
“The success of companies highlighted today also serves as a stark reminder of what I and my department have been working so hard to protect in recent months.
“It is because we have such a strong business sector in Northern Ireland that we prioritised offering millions of pounds in business support grants which enabled 30,000 businesses to survive through lockdown and beyond.”
Mr Simpson said that rising profit levels among the companies indicate that “for the more successful local companies, business has been improving, at least before the impact of the pandemic in 2020”.
The list was compiled on the basis of companies’ accounts filed with Companies House by late last month.